The Best Snacks and Drinks at the Union Square Holiday Market

Whether you’re gift shopping or hungry for Korean hot dogs, this guide has you covered.

Union Square Holiday Market
Union Square Holiday Market | Photo by Jacob Williamson
Union Square Holiday Market | Photo by Jacob Williamson

Each year, the Union Square Holiday Market brings some 160 vendors and twinkling holiday cheer to a bustling Manhattan thoroughfare flanked by sidewalk chess hustlers and a year-round farmers market. Navigating the labyrinthine stalls can overwhelm even the most seasoned New Yorkers and energetic tourists, so we pounded the pavement to identify the best places to stop for snacks, drinks, and food gifts.

The market is open daily from 11 am to 8 pm until December 24. Most if not all of the food stalls are toward the southwest side of the park, close to Park Avenue South between 14th and 15th streets.

Here, our picks for the 10 best things to eat, drink, and buy at the Union Square Holiday Market.

From Sunnyside, Queens comes this confectioner that specializes in mochi-stuffed shortbread cookies. Situated near Union Square East, the stall changes its menu daily, and sells ube-, matcha-, and salted caramel-stuffed cookies, as well as butter mochi, Basque mochi cheesecakes, hot coffee, and Filipino-style hot chocolate.

If you’re craving a classic apple cider donut or need to warm up with a cup of hot apple cider, head to this south-facing stall. An outpost of a Hudson Valley orchard that grows 50-odd varieties of apples, eight types of pears, plus peaches, plums, and nectarines, Breezy Hill also occasionally sells fruit at the Union Square Greenmarket. The Holiday Market stand has donuts to eat on the spot or to take away, as well as oversized chocolate chip cookies and gingersnaps.

After he lost his restaurant job during the early days of the pandemic, Daniel Corpuz began selling handmade bonbons, which led to an appearance on season one of Netflix’s School of Chocolate. Last year, fans waited in long lines to purchase his chocolates at another winter market in New York, where Corpuz sold out daily—often within 20 minutes of opening. The lines seem to have died down this year, but consider yourself forewarned.

Union Square Holiday Market
Union Square Holiday Market | Photo by Jacob Williamson

Situated in a prime corner stall near the south-facing side of the Holiday Market, this stall sells duck fat fries, duck and beef burgers, and a selection of poutines, including one with duck bacon, fresh cheese curds, and duck gravy. It’s the perfect pit stop for something hot and hearty amid a long day of holiday shopping.

Two brothers from Brooklyn run this catering company and pop up truck that sells Latin American street food. Follow the sounds of Daddy Yankee or Bad Bunny to their lively market stall, where piping-hot empanadas filled with beef, carnitas, or cheese and spinach are served with an array of homemade hot sauces alongside yucca fries and hot cider.

Reusable dishcloths are this Swedish design company’s signature, but the chicly patterned platters, dishes, and other tableware at the Holiday Market make excellent gifts for anyone who likes to entertain. The shop offers bundle deals on multiple towels and textiles, so you can pick up something for a stylish friend and yourself at the same time.

Rubyzaar Baked
Rubyzaar Baked | Photo by Jacob Williamson

If you’re shopping for someone who loves to cook or stocking your own larder, stop by this stall toward the south side of the park. Helmed by a mother-daughter duo from Long Island City, Queens, Mama Lam’s sells Malaysian curry pastes in hot, medium, and mild, as well as hot sauces and chili oil. All jars and bottles are brightly packaged and available in traditional and vegan varieties.

Among the more popular food vendors at the market, this outpost of a popular Lower East Side storefront sells Korean-style corn dogs. Each beef or mozzarella frank is coated in rice or potatoes and then deep-fried until golden brown. There are even half-beef, half-cheese options for those with holiday-shopping-induced decision fatigue.

Inspired by the tea culture she shared with her grandmother during her childhood in coastal China, Lisa Li created this purveyor of beautifully packaged, whole-flower tisanes. Sourced from family farms across Asia, The Qi’s hand-picked offerings include Shangri-La rose, chrysanthemum, and blue lotus teas. Look for the snug stall near the eastern side of Union Square.

Adjoined to this retailer’s collection of fair trade scarves and handmade crafts is a slim cookie counter. It sells softball-sized cookies like Classic Rock, or salted chocolate chunk, The Casbah, made with fresh mint and dark chocolate, and Hoi An, a Vietnamese coffee-flavored cookie with sweet milk and dark chocolate.

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Emily Saladino is a writer, editor, and recipe developer based in New York. Previously the Digital Managing Editor of Wine Enthusiast and Editor in Chief of VinePair, her writing has been published in The Washington PostBloombergBBC, and others. She currently reviews wines from Greece, Crete, and Georgia for Wine Enthusiast. A former professional cook and bartender, she holds a Culinary Arts Degree from The French Culinary Institute and Level II Certification from The Wine & Spirit Education Trust.